Ready for the 179th meeting between West Virginia and Pitt and ready for the debut of 6-foot-9, 270 pound freshman Deniz Kilicli.
–Mountaineer coach Bob Huggins yesterday tried to temper expectations for Kilicli by saying he didn’t know how much he freshman would play tonight. Huggins knows it will take a period of time for Kilicli to get into game shape and Huggins says there will an adjustment period with the other players having Kilicli on the floor. Still, Huggins could not hide his excitment about the potential Kilicli brings.
"That is the hope that Kilicli helps us win a few more games," Huggins said to a group of reporters Tuesday. "He gives us what we didn’t have. He gives us size and girth and the ability to score around the rim."
–This Pitt team is completely different from the one WVU played three times last year. Sam Young and DeJuan Blair have moved on to the NBA. The leadership in late game situations of LeVance Fields is also missed. Pitt is more of a guard oriented team now with sophomore Aston Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker as the leading scorer. Junior Gilbert Brown brings scoring and athleticism off the bench.
–Pitt got off to a great start with road wins at Syracuse, Cincinnati and Connecticut all in a row early. Pitt was 5-0 at one point in Big East play. But the Panthers come into tonight’s game having lost three of the last four including a 70-61 loss at South Florida Sunday. That was a game in which Pitt’s best defensive player Jermaine Dixon sat out with a sprained ankle. Dominique Jones took advantage to score 37 points to lead the Bulls. Dixon practiced for the first time Tuesday since injuring that ankle. He will be a game time decision.
–This will be the fourth time in the 179-game history of this series that both teams are ranked, and the first since then-No. 16 West Virginia upset the then-No. 8 Panthers with a 67-62 home win on Feb. 27, 2006.
–Devin Ebanks appears to be "on" early. He scored WVU’s first two baskets and he is playing with emotion early. Ebanks was the key in WVU’s upset win over No. 2 ranked PItt in the Big East Tournament last year with 21 points and six rebounds.
–Good start for WVU overall and for Ebanks specifically. Ebanks is 3-3 from the field at the first media timeout. The Mountaineers are 4-7 from the field against a team that is tops in the Big East in scoring defense and third in the league in field goal percentage defense as it has held all opponents to an average of 39% shooting from the field for the year.
–Consecutive three pointers from Wellington Smith and Da’Sean Butler. The Mountaineers are shooting well.
–First appearance by Kilicli at the 13:59 mark of the first half. Kilicli came in to a deafining roar from the crowd. You could tell he was fired up as he tried to check into the game by runnning up to the radio crew. Kilici scored on his very first touch as a Mountaineer as he hit a shot from in close with the left hand.
–TWO IN A ROW for Kilicli as he scored again with a jump hook with the left hand. Two touches, two baskets.
–MAKE IT THREE IN A ROW. Kilicli scored his third basket on a tip-in. He has three field goals in his first two minutes. He has touched the ball four times and scored three times. Kilicli has shown the ability to score in close with both hands. He has shown a deft inside touch with that left hand in the early going here.
–Some of the halftime numbers: Pitt turned up the defense late in the half as WVU finished the half shooting 48% after shooting over 60% for a large portion of the half. WVU led by as many as 11 points. Pitt used runs of 9-0 and 11-3 to get back into it. The Mountaineers scored the final points of the half at the buzzer on a Wellington Smith tip-in. Pitt never led in the half. It was 2-2 very early and the Mountaineers led the rest of the way from that point.
–Mountaineers are going with a BIG front line here mid-way through the second half. Kilicli re-entered with the 6-9 Ebanks and 6-8 Kevin Jones in the game. Also, 6-5 Da’Sean Butler in the backcourt.
–Daggers by Butler and Jones in the second half. Butler hit a three with under 11:00 to play after Pitt had closed to within four. Jones, with the shot clock running down inside of :05. Mountaineers up 56-44.
— Much too long of a delay to sort out the tussle under the basket. Any chance Pitt had of coming back was zapped during that delay that took nearly ten minutes. Then following the next foul when the officials looked at it again, lead offical Bob Donato finally insisted to the crew that they move it along.
–Following the scrum, WVU went 10-10 from the free throw line to seal the deal.